Pearline Kemp, left, and Lena McClain look at an AIDS memorial quilt in the Franciscan Center at Lourdes College.
Some blocks were stitched with names, others showed faces - each memorializes a person who died of AIDS.
A 12-foot-square portion of the AIDS memorial quilt hung in the Franciscan Center at Lourdes College yesterday, serving as a reminder that HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, continues to infect millions of people each year.
It was a symbol of a disease that is all too real for people like Benard Manyibe, a Kenyan native and Bowling Green State University doctoral student who has lost friends to AIDS.
With intentions of raising awareness about how the disease affects his home country and hope that he could inspire more Americans to help, Mr. Manyibe spoke to about 25 people during a lunchtime program organized by the college for World AIDS Day.
His message was not lost on student Pearline Kemp, who said AIDS awareness is an issue for the whole community.
Benard Manyibe, a doctoral student at Bowling Green State University, speaks at Lourdes College about the impact of AIDS on his native Kenya. He has lost many friends to the disease.
"AIDS doesn't care what race you are, whether you're rich or poor, and it doesn't care how old you are," she said. "This is a devastating disease, and we need to be there for one another."
The message of help and hope also resonated with Julie Embree, the associate director of David's House Compassion in Toledo, a local group that provides case management and support services for those living with AIDS.
Ms. Embree, who attended the talk, said that while there are services available for those living with AIDS, prevention and awareness remain top pri-orities.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 1.2 million people in the United States were living with either HIV or AIDS as of 2003. As many as 27 percent of them were undiagnosed and unaware of their HIV infection.
The Kaiser Family Foundation said that 918,286 cases of AIDS were reported nationwide through December, 2004. Of those, 13,655 were reported in Ohio and 13,631 were reported in Michigan.
The Ohio Department of Health's records show that 803 people were living with HIV or AIDS in Lucas County as of June, 2004. In Wood County, that number drops to 52 people and in both Ottawa and Fulton counties, 19 people were reported living with the virus.
"A lot of people don't have a perceived fear of death with this disease because they know there are [drugs]," Ms. Embree said. "But the reality is that the lives of those with this disease is miserable."
"AIDS is a big issue," she added. "Especially because we can prevent it."
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